GENERAL INFORMATION. The 2024 Family Year Planner can be downloaded in A3 or A4 size from https://marfam.org.za/2024-family-year-planner/. Overview documents for the monthly themes and for the full month of January can be downloaded from https://marfam.org.za/category/family-matters/2024-family-year-planner/
January 1. Mary, Mother of God. World Day of Prayer for Peace.
One of Mary’s most significant titles is Queen of Peace. In many apparitions over the centuries she has requested prayers for peace in particular countries and in the world. Pope Francis has chosen the theme ‘Artificial Intelligence and Peace,’ for his 2024, message for the World Day of Prayer for Peace. He urges world leaders to ensure that progress in developing forms of artificial intelligence “will ultimately serve the cause of human fraternity and peace.” It is too easy for families to take these new developments for granted but, as an addition to many aspects of daily life, we also need to be aware of the inherent risks, e.g. fake news and social media. Family members can pray the scriptural blessing below over one another on this first day of the New Year.
Reflect, share. Scripture Blessing Prayer: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace. Book of Numbers 6:23-27. Pope Francis. New technologies must always be directed to the pursuit of peace and the common good, in the service of the integral development of individuals and communities. The ethical dimension of these new technologies are revolutionizing humanity in all spheres of life, highlighting the ambivalence inherent in any progress in science and technology. On the one hand, it can lead to the betterment of humanity and the transformation of the world if it contributes to greater order in human society and greater fraternal communion and freedom. On the other hand, techno-scientific advances, especially in the digital sphere, are placing in human hands a vast array of options, some may pose a risk to our survival and endanger our common home. No technological innovation is neutral. Prayer and action: “It is my prayer at the start of the New Year that the rapid development of forms of artificial intelligence will not increase cases of inequality and injustice all too present in today’s world, but will help put an end to wars and conflicts, and alleviate many forms of suffering that afflict our human family.” Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the 57th World Day of Peace 1st January 2024 https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/en/2023/12/14/messaggio-pace.html.
CHILDREN’S PEACE PILGRIMAGE final reflection
I hope that the many people who would have read or followed MARFAM’s story A CHILDREN’S PEACE PILGRIMAGE leading up to Christmas would have found the story meaningful. I wrote it in 2005 after my own pilgrimage to the Holy Land and my deep emotional moment in Bethlehem, at the manger in the cave of the nativity. At that time there was already a wall dividing Jerusalem from Bethlehem, which is in the occupied West Bank. It is where today the Israeli-Hamas war is also being experienced although not to the same devastating degree as in Gaza. In my story the children’s pilgrimage ended in Bethlehem with singing and dancing and joyful moments of unity. And the children would have gone home enriched by their experience but, nevertheless, for many still to a situation of war.
This year the story could have been different with no children’s pilgrimage ending at the manger. This year’s imaginary pilgrimage could have had injured children from Gaza and other parts of Israel, children abducted from the Ukraine to Russia, displaced from Sudan, DRC, Nigeria, from Nicaragua and Myanmar and more, as well as from countries devastated by earthquakes and floods.
The resident Franciscan priest from Bethlehem, Fr Francesco Patton, gave his Christmas message from the empty grotto. To end he prayed the prayer of St John Paul II which begins with the words “Dry the tears of children, O child Jesus., He included many intercessions for peace and ended with the words: God of peace, gift of peace for all humanity, come and live in the heart of every person and family. Be thou our peace and our joy. Amen.
The full message can be download from https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2023-12/christmas-season-2023-francesco- or, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB44GGj5Bog&t=209s. Google for more videos of the scaled down Christmas in Bethlehem including the Mass.